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Old 04-07-2020, 14:34   #1
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Dealing with Thunder Storms

Iím moving a new too me Hunter from Savanna GA too the Florida East Coast and this week appears to offer a good weather window but I expect for a chance of t storms.
Can anyone offer a strategy of dealing with t storms while near shore.

If I sailed farther out would the air be more stable? The green crew prefers staying near shore.

I have radar but Iím not sure how it would help me avoid a fast moving t storm.
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Old 04-07-2020, 14:38   #2
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Re: Dealing with Thunder Storms

Reef early and often! That's more or less all you need to know.


Just been through two t-storms on our last passage. The first one was immensely satisfying as we got the boat in just the right posture, two minutes before the blast hit, 45 knots of wind, and sailed right through it with no trouble. Staysail and deeply reefed main, running backs set. Second time we didn't have the jib put away and it was a bit dicier.


Thunderstorms are not that challenging because they don't last long enough to create a difficult sea state. So you just need to not have too much sail area up, and you'll be fine.
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Old 04-07-2020, 15:05   #3
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Re: Dealing with Thunder Storms

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Originally Posted by Sailor_Al View Post
I’m moving a new too me Hunter from Savanna GA too the Florida East Coast and this week appears to offer a good weather window but I expect for a chance of t storms.
Can anyone offer a strategy of dealing with t storms while near shore.

If I sailed farther out would the air be more stable? The green crew prefers staying near shore.

I have radar but I’m not sure how it would help me avoid a fast moving t storm.
There are two separate issues here: the boat and the crew.

Dockhead's absolutely right, reef early (it is good training for the crew, too), and expect at least 45 knots for part of it. Jim and I have experienced a brief 80 knots* (maybe 1/2 hr., maybe 45 min.) in a severe thunderstorm, according to the Rescue Station, which shut down when it's roof blew off, but did announce the wind strength. So, if you reef for 80 (if the warning is for severe T storms) you'll be pretty safe. You may not be able even to motor to windward in that much wind. If you see a roll cloud, prepare for the 60+ region of the wind spectrum. Plot your safest headings when you first see the storm, so you have them firmly in mind.

And that is why you need to deal with your crew about "close to land". Disregard their qualms. That is where the hard bits are, and sea room is VERY important if you have to turn down and run before the strong wind. Tell them you WILL seek sea room if necessary (and don't bring them if you think they'll gang up on you--they're better off at home, and you will be without them if they'll freak out). We had to seek sea room, in the above-mentioned storm, and our knot meter and anenometer were both pegged. We had not anticipated the wind strength, as we were just offshore from said rescue station) and had two reefs in the main when their wind hit us. We should have had the 3rd one in, instead. It was too boisterous to get it in after the fact, and we did ride it out okay, because we had sea room. However, imo, it is undesirable to be going that fast when you cannot see beyond the bow for the rain--and the radar can't "see" because the returns from the rain drops blot out the ships.

Use of radar for Tstorms. As the storm is approaching, you'll see a clear mass of returns. [Turn it on ANY time the sky looks funny to you!] Plot its travel, and see if you can go around one of its edges, if you don't want to go through middle. Make sure there's adequate depths and berths on hazards.

*This particular Tstorm had been announced as "severe".

Ann
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Old 04-07-2020, 15:13   #4
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Re: Dealing with Thunder Storms

Agree with everything said below. I'll add to this the lesson taught to me by my first sailing instructor: When the lightning starts, don't stand between two large metal bits.

You don't want to be in the path of lightning should it hit your boat, so don't get between mast and engine, or stove or the like.
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Old 04-07-2020, 15:20   #5
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Re: Dealing with Thunder Storms

florida is thunderstorm alley. we sailed thru so many. i did notice that 20-40 miles off shore is better than closer.. and then i was chewed out for off course hahahahahaha and continued to stay out of em as much as i could.
they are formidable..
i noticed when sailing out of tampa that when the eye of the sky narrows and youcan only see a small area in center of the heavens with stars, that itis time to reef , hunker, pray, wtf ye do for them as that means they are forming on you. that haze is a storm in formation. night time is when you see this, and must respond immediately.
when the wind perks up and runs into a cloud bank, guess what; next is huge boxy seas loss of bow light and hellzacomin.....cannot turn around without wipeout, just gradually change your course and calmly--yeah right-- make back to port... hellzapoppin is reality.
i also found rubber shoes rubber gloves and rainsuit during hellzahere was a lil bit mind halping in the worst of lightning situations.
we were out at 0200 heading toward appalach when th e voice on vhf became a real onenot canned and in a slightly panicked tone told us attention all mariners attention all mariners..seek immediate shelter. there are buoy to buoy severe lightning storms off appalachiacola. (hell yes i talked back at the radio without keying mic..hahahahah)
\well hell. we were almost 60 mi from appalach and the lightning was hell.. no sound of thunder altho i know it was there, but it seemed to be raining bolts holy ***** we made a ditch bag--cat stuff first, and readied for loss of boat, did make it into appalach on a surfing more than 8 ft sea... with only 4.5 ft depth here we were and our draft being 4.5 ft, we were frozen in place. we would make it or bust. whew we made it.. damned nasty there. we didnot die.
bubba daboatkat was concerned. i was quite nervous and owner of the seidelmann was quite anxious. not a pleasant passage.
oh yes--we did place jumper cables from shrouds into ocean.
is all ye can do , if you are sailing and it is on you. that and pray. hahahaaha all the sea gods..every one. not just traditional prayer, but pan praying ..neptune poseidon all of em. and donot leave out any guardian angels you know of
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Old 04-07-2020, 15:26   #6
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Re: Dealing with Thunder Storms

Forget about reef early- 30 years of boating in FLA has taught me there are two options

Option 1) try to avoid them, Sail offshore or north adobos it. If you can stay 5 or miles away- they are not an issue.

Option 2) start the engine, roll up jib and put the main away. You can expect winds of over 40 kts in the big ones. If you canít get the main down, keep enough wind in it not to flog, but donít try to sail with it.

Also pray like hell! If you get hit, Ďin theoryí if you donít touch the wheel you are ok. But then again with a gazillion volts, not sure if that would work.
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Old 04-07-2020, 15:36   #7
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Re: Dealing with Thunder Storms

Don't be ashamed to take down the sails completely and turn on the engine.
Especially if you are near shore or have limited sea room.
It's a valid tactic.
There are often dramatic wind shifts and the wind speed can spike then drop to nothing.
Luckily they are often fast moving and narrow bands that pass quickly.
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Old 04-07-2020, 16:09   #8
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Re: Dealing with Thunder Storms

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Originally Posted by NahanniV View Post
Don't be ashamed to take down the sails completely and turn on the engine.
Especially if you are near shore or have limited sea room.
It's a valid tactic.
There are often dramatic wind shifts and the wind speed can spike then drop to nothing.
Luckily they are often fast moving and narrow bands that pass quickly.
I like that tactic best!
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Old 04-07-2020, 16:45   #9
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Re: Dealing with Thunder Storms

Sails down and engine on is usually when the filters clog and the Genoa sheet gets caught in the prop. Couple boats a year on the beaches from that. I guess unusually just put on some rain gear and adjust the sails. Works fine
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Old 04-07-2020, 17:00   #10
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Re: Dealing with Thunder Storms

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor_Al View Post
I’m moving a new too me Hunter from Savanna GA too the Florida East Coast and this week appears to offer a good weather window but I expect for a chance of t storms.
Can anyone offer a strategy of dealing with t storms while near shore.

If I sailed farther out would the air be more stable? The green crew prefers staying near shore.

I have radar but I’m not sure how it would help me avoid a fast moving t storm.
Don’t know you or your boats capabilities

With the internet you can track lighting strikes in real time

https://www.lightningmaps.org/?lang=en

Once alerted to these cells, your radar will reflect the rain Associated with the cells and warn you of possible trouble

T storms generally track with the upper level air flow in a logical
March

Armed with the lightning strike map and your radar. Small alterations to coarse or boat speed allows you to
Wiggle thru the cells
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Old 04-07-2020, 17:13   #11
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Re: Dealing with Thunder Storms

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Sails down and engine on is usually when the filters clog e
Yep...this was a Derecho front that hit us about 40 miles off shore while heading for St.Johns Inlet, Fl. just before all hell broke loose..engine died due to crud in the tank...
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Old 04-07-2020, 17:51   #12
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Re: Dealing with Thunder Storms

Al,

1) The route from Savannah, GA down to S. Florida (Ft. Pierce Inlet for your Sebastian location?) is pretty darn easy-peasy....and will take you from a few miles out of Savannah ---- to as much as 30 miles off Fernadina Beach --- and back to a few miles (5 - 10 miles) off Daytona/Ponce Inlet, and then staying close along the coast until just a few miles off Cape Canaveral, and then staying a few miles off the coast, to the Ft. Pierce Inlet....


So, you and your crew will not be too far offshore at all...and typically in 40' - 60' of water, or less....

Please have a look at this posting here...for all the details...

Outside route from Hilton Head to Florida
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ml#post1672141


And, this one here, too...
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...-152439-2.html





2) As for the whole T-Storm thing....

Dealing with T-Storms while sailing summertime well off the coast of Florida isn't usually an issue....as typical daytime summer weather patterns have T-storms building during afternoons inshore / on-land, not at sea....but, of course keeping a good watch on deck you'll easily see rising clouds / darkening skies during the daytime, and see lightning from quite a ways away at night
And, yes, if you're close to the storm, you can use radar to try and find the best way thru or around the storm cell...

Just be aware that you may see the lightning quite a ways away, but you may not see much on radar...
Lesson here, keep a good watch and you'll be fine...)

So, shortening sail / reefing early, and having everything secured on-deck (and below in the cabin), are typically all you'll need to do, in regards to dealing with T-Storms along this route...

Although, I'd also recommend daily listening to the NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts, on the VHF (twice a day at minimum, and if you're concerned about weather listen 4 times a day or as needed)....

Along your route, you'll have these 6 stations...you should be within range of at least one for most of your coastal passage....(although as you move south and out of the Brunswick station's coverage / pass offshore the GA/FL line, you may find coverage spotty for a few hours...I've never had an issue there, but some have reported they have...)

NOAA Weather Radio Stations:
Savannah GA = KEC85 = 162.400mhz = WX ch. 2

Brunswick GA = WWH39 = 162.425mhz = WX ch. 4

Jacksonville FL = KHB39 = 162.550mhz = WX ch. 1

Daytona FL = KIH26 = 162.400mhz = WX ch. 2

Melbourne FL = WXJ70 = 162.550mhz = WX ch. 1

Ft. Pierce FL = WWF69 = 162.425mhz = WX ch. 4



In addition to these stations giving you decent weather info / forecasts (including updated buoy weather data), they also have info on Gulf Stream position....(although, if you stay along the route I write about, you'll have no issue with the Stream)




3) Have a look at today's forecasts....and while not sure exactly when you're planning on leaving, from these forecasts you should plan on sailing to windward in light winds....so, it probably won't be a record pace.

https://marine.weather.gov/MapClick.php?zoneid=AMZ354

https://forecast.weather.gov/product...n=1&glossary=0

https://forecast.weather.gov/product...n=1&glossary=0

https://forecast.weather.gov/product...F&issuedby=MFL




I hope this helps you out....


Fair winds...


John
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Old 04-07-2020, 19:15   #13
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Re: Dealing with Thunder Storms

If it's a really bad one, then very little to zero sail, engine warmed up and ready to go and very importantly for your stress levels, get away from land, rocks etc, so that if you lose control of the boat, you have sea room, lake room, whatever you can get.

We've been in a 70knot thunderstorm and there's not a lot of control to be exercised but they usually don't last very long.
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Old 04-07-2020, 19:35   #14
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Dealing with Thunder Storms

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Turned out to be not bad.
I put effort into tracking it on radar and estimating the position at encounter. Worked well. Missed the ugly bits.
There was another one though that had the dinghy streaming like a kite straight out in mid air spinning left then right doing barrel rolls. Dunno what the wind was, but plenty.
Prep for lots of wind and hunker down. When itís over breathe that sigh of relief.
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Old 04-07-2020, 20:40   #15
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Re: Dealing with Thunder Storms

Delivering my boat from St Pete to Norfolk had a bunch of thunder bumpers offshore in the Gulf that we were able to avoid but finally one had our number on it. Friend with me was familiar with these clouds and insisted we take down all sail thoroughly gasket them to the lifelines and boom, tie down everything or stow it below. Good thing we did as when it hit it put the spreaders in the water even with bare pole. Unbelievable rain with the wind but over within a few minutes. Put the sails back up and we were on our way with no more coming close. Saw a few on the Atlantic side but not nearly as numerous as on the Gulf side.
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